| An angry parent outside the school. (PTI)
Mumbai, Nov. 16: Angelina Jolie believes in a dialogue between cultures, but the dialogue today turned bitter when one of her fearsome bodyguards shouted: “Get out, you bloody Indians.”
The public relations nightmare occurred at the Anjuman-E-Islam school where Jolie was shooting for A Mighty Heart this afternoon with her minders clashing with parents of the pupils.
Witnesses said the incident took place in the gap when the secondary school closes at 12.30 pm and primary classes begin, a time of frenetic activity when parents come to pick up or drop their wards. It seems the parents had no idea Jolie was shooting inside, though the production company said it had taken permission of the school authorities.
Ansari Zuber Ahmed, who came to pay the fees of his son studying in Class IX, said: “We saw men in Pakistani police uniform wielding AK-56 rifles in the school lobby and courtyard.”
Ahmed added: “We were frightened that something was wrong with our kids. We were not informed that a shooting is scheduled to take place in the school.”
| Jolie during the shooting at school. (Fotocop)
A curious group of onlookers had gathered to catch a glimpse of Jolie, joined by a large media contingent at the entrance to the school. The crowd swelled as students, with or without parents, came out or arrived at the school. The school buses were also trying to find places to park.
Ahmed said he was pushed and threatened by two guards when he tried to stop them from roughing up a secondary student. “The guard said, ‘You bloody Indians. Who are you'’ He gestured with his hand that he can slit my throat,” said Ahmed, who is a member of the school’s parents-teachers association.
Yesterday, Jolie said she had accepted the role of Marianne, the wife of slain American reporter Daniel Pearl, because she felt it important to have a dialogue between different cultures and faiths.
The producers of A Mighty Heart blamed journalists for the incident. “We had the full permission and cooperation of the school to film on the premises. Unfortunately, our arrival was impeded by the paparazzi waiting at the gates of the school. When the gates were opened to allow the parents in to collect their children, the paparazzi rushed to the school causing confusion,” they said in a statement.
Mohammed Aslam, a parent, said the school’s main gate was locked, and the students entering and leaving the school were forced to use a side gate which was too small to handle over 3,000 children. “We tried to tell the school committee representatives to allow the children to come out before the shooting continued to ease the situation. If they had to give the premises for a film shooting, they could have done it on Friday or Sunday, when the school is closed. How can you inconvenience small children'” Aslam asked.
He is one of the members of the group from the parents-teachers association that lodged a police complaint at the Azad Maidan police station next door against the school’s management and an unnamed bodyguard who allegedly attacked and abused people. The school authorities were unavailable for comment.
Jolie, who said yesterday she enjoyed the local train ride and found shooting in Mumbai “fun”, was stuck inside and the filming had to be stopped because of the trouble outside.
The police arrived to calm tempers around 1.30 pm. Ahmed said: “The filming resumed under police protection again around 3 pm. This time they closed the doors and windows of primary classrooms to shoot in the lobby. Won’t children suffocate if you do that' That’s when we said enough is enough, and forced the school to end this nonsense.”
The shooting was stopped around 3.55 pm and a harried Jolie left the premises. “The issue has been resolved and the actor, along with the crew, has left after completing the shooting,” Brajesh Singh, deputy commissioner, said.
The police detained three vehicles with Sindh and Karachi number plates, which were part of the shoot, though it was not clear what action they would take.
It is mandatory to acquire three permissions before a film production company is allowed to shoot at any place in the city — the municipal ward office, the local police station and traffic authorities and the owner of the premises.
The production company claimed it had taken the school’s permission, but an officer of Azad Maidan police station said they had not been informed.
One of Jolie’s minders had manhandled a British journalist in Pune last month.